Bible Question:

Can you please explain the dispute over the body of Moses between the angel Michael and the devil in Jude 9? I cannot find anything in the Old Testament that talks about this event.

Bible Answer:

Here is the passage in Jude 9.

But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” (NASB) Jude 9

Moses’ Body

Moses’ life ended prematurely due to his refusal to obey God in the wilderness of Zin (Num. 20:1-13). Therefore, God told Moses that he would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land. So when the time came for the Jewish people to return to the Promised Land, God took Moses’ life (Deut. 34:1) and buried him in Moab.

So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day. (NASB) Deut. 34:5-6

It appears from Jude 9 that God commanded Michael, the archangel, to bury him.

The Dispute

Apparently, the dispute between Michael and the devil occurred at the time of the burial. We do not know what the dispute was about because scripture never tells us. There are references to this event in a non-biblical book entitled the “Assumption of Moses.” The book does not speculate about the reason for the dispute either.


It is amazing to me how much the Bible does not explain. The Bible rarely gives us very many details about any event. It is not interested in details but in giving us a sense of the flow of God’s work. The Bible is faithful to history rather than being a sensationally religious book. The authors of the Bible could have tried to impress us with a wide variety of details but they do not. The Bible is not primarily sensational but a faithful account of what has happened. So, this is another event with missing details – details that God did not choose to provide. They were not that important in God’s thinking.